Grandparent bemoans grandkids lack of handwriting skills

Dear Grandparenting: Jan. 23 is the birthday of John Hancock, the guy with the massively elegant signature at the bottom of America’s Declaration of Independence. (Hancock supposedly said he wanted England’s King George to see who was the lead signer, without need for the royal eyeglasses.)

In tribute to Mr. Hancock’s perfect penmanship, his Jan. 23 birthday is celebrated as National Handwriting Day. I know, like who cares. There’s this thing called the Internet, and we’re all keyboarding/texting on computers, phones and tablets. The handwriting is on the wall for handwriting.

Maybe they call this progress, but count me out. My grandkids’ handwriting usually ranges between pathetic and inscrutable. They like to make it seem like it’s a real effort to communicate using a pencil or pen and paper. That’s nonsense. Would you hire someone who couldn’t write legibly by hand? I might have to pass. What say you about all this? Gwyn Richardson, Wilmington, Deleware

Dear Gwyn: You get no argument from us about the generally shabby treatment the written word receives at the hands of grandchildren, and it’s not about to get any better. Under the Common Core educational standards rolled out by America’s federal government in 2010, cursive instruction is omitted and handwriting given short shrift, replaced by a greater emphasis on digital technologies proficiency.

But to put this in perspective, people were freaking out about the decline of children’s handwriting skills long before the dawning of the computer age. The first threat was the typewriter, invented some 150 years ago, then telephones and Dictaphones, and don’t forget shorthand. Somehow we still manage.

Scientific evidence supports the value of learning handwriting skills — enhanced cognitive development and motor skills, with potential for better reading and writing abilities. And the recent passing of Valentine’s Day on Feb. 14 reminds us of another benefit — the warm feeling upon opening a handwritten love note from your sweetie. Now that might get a grandchild’s attention!


When Marla Sheets from Colonial Heights, Tennessee, talks about her grandchildren — “and I do all the time” — she often works this quote from A.A. Milne’s classic, “Winnie-the-Pooh,” into the conversation:

“Some people care too much. I think it’s called love.”

By Tom and Dee and Cousin Key

Dee and Tom, married more than 50 years, have eight grandchildren. Together with Key, they welcome questions, suggestions and Grand Remarks of the Week. Send to P.O. Box 27454, Towson, MD, 21285. Call 410-963-4426.